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Anastasia Griffith is best known for her starring role in the TV drama ‘Damages.’ With her new show ‘Trauma’ ready to hit the small screen this fall on NBC, Anastasia Griffith is sure to win the hearts of medical drama fans everywhere.
13 Questions with Anastasia Griffith
1. How do you keep your work on the cutting edge?
Keep it real. By taking time out to really think about the character in that situation not just the effect you want the character to have on the audience. And generally I always ask myself what choices most people would make and try and do the opposite. I want to surprise people and myself.
2. How do you reset yourself to become creative? Do you have any rituals?
I meditate and do yoga. Or at least I try to, it’s not always easy to find the time or the inclination when there is so much going on around you. I try and just use the tools I have learned through meditation, including breathing exercises or just working at a little detachment, to allow myself to work without judgment and just see what comes.
I just try to stay as relaxed and open as possible, walk on set with lines learned and the medical stuff down, but not to plan too heavily so I can allow myself to be more free in the moment.
3. What is an example of a time where you have thrown away an existing idea to force yourself to find something new?
All the time. Especially when working with good directors who you trust to take you somewhere different. Jeff Reiner on ‘Trauma’ is great at that, we all trust him implicitly. There is one scene in the pilot where my character is what the paramedics call ‘spinning,’ she loses her cool and is basically taken off the patient, and my instincts were to go in really hard, fast and big.. Jeff held me back, turned me upside down and really let me find a growing frustration that I would have blown right out of the gates.
I think we always have to be prepared to drop all the preparation we have done as actors when something doesn’t work or changes on set. We have to be fluid in our decisions and impulses so as to live in the moment. That’s what makes a good performance great. It’s a cliche but it’s true.
4. How did you get involved in acting and what motivates you to continue?
I got involved initially when I went to drama school back in 2001 I guess. That decision was not an easy one though and I resisted it for a long time, not least because my brother Jamie was already working and I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps for the rest of my life. It was when I was working as an AD on the second season of a TV show for the BBC called ‘Hearts and Bones’ that I made the decision to go and train as an actor.
It was actually one of the lead actresses, Amanda Holden, who told me that she had never worked with a more high status AD before and that I needed to be in front of the camera. I had always wanted to act and that gave me the final kick up the arse to go for it, I guess it was just fear holding me back. I gave myself one year to apply to drama schools back at home and if I didn’t get in I would do something else. I got into LAMDA [London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art] a month later and I was on my way.
What keeps me in it? I ask myself that all the time and I always say that the moment it stops making sense, teaching me something or being enjoyable I will get out.
I don’t have this job on a pedestal anymore. I used to, but now I am in the privileged position to see it as work. Work I love and find incredibly fulfilling, sure, but that is why I can say I will walk away when it stops being so.
Most of all, I think I love the people that I meet, get to know and call my friends. Actors, directors, writers.. they are all amazing kinds of people who I find exciting and inspiring to spend time with.
There are definitely downsides to working in this industry, though, and sometimes I think I would like the simple life. I know now that I could be happy living a less pressured day-to-day existence devoted to some other practices and pastimes I love to do and someday maybe I will decide to do that. Until then, I am going to be grateful for the opportunities I have been given and enjoy them.
5. How significant are the topics of cool hunting and trend spotting in the world of entertainment?
Very important to the world of entertainment, not very important to me. This is a struggle I always have working in this industry, I have a resistance to buying into the notion of cool. I do like nice clothes, I have a very specific style of interior decorating, I enjoy music and love the movies but I think I will resist something that is trendy for trendy’s sake. I find that nauseating and believe it should be ridiculed at all costs.
But, this industry, like it or not, is all about marketing and audiences, numbers and demographics and if you can ride the trend wave you can have a huge success on your hands. Who am I to judge that, I guess? I think for me it’s more about quality than quantity, and I hope that some of the work I am involved in is zeitgeist and inspiring in some way, even just through the power of entertainment and if that creates a following then great.
6. How do you define cool?
Cool to me is knowing your own mind and sticking to it, whatever other people think. That is the only way you get genius in this world, because somebody somewhere has the confidence to stand out and be different. Confidence in your convictions. That’s cool.
7. How do you define a trend?
Someone or something that is (often blindly) followed by a mass of people, for better or for worse.
8. What is the coolest aspect about your upcoming show?
The characters. We have a little bit of everything in the 7 lead roles and a bunch of great actors working with integrity to show the audience who these guys are. And lots of action, explosions and high octane adrenaline never goes astray.
9. Professionally, what do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I would love to be working across the three mediums of theatre, film and television. To have done work that I am proud of in each one. I think variety is the spice of life, so I would love to keep switching things up. And you learn such different skills with each one.
I would really like to tackle some great character roles in movies, begin to move away from the typecasting of television and take myself out of my comfort zone a little. I love the pace of TV and it has taught me so much, but I know I harbor some fear and doubt regarding my ability to really take myself to a character that is very different from me, be it physically or mentally, and I am all about conquering my fears.
I would also like to direct in time, but I am in no hurry. I have recently done an intensive directing course and have been shadowing a lot of the directors both on ‘Damages’ and ‘Trauma,’ but I don’t feel equipped to go there yet. Soon.
10. If you weren’t in entertainment, what would your dream profession be?
I think I would love to be a psychotherapist of some kind actually. I love figuring out the human mind and helping people combat it a little. I have learned a little about that through meditation and yoga and would like to develop my knowledge some more.
If that doesn’t work out, I do intend to get more involved with teaching yoga, developing my meditation practice and maybe reaching out to people who could benefit from what I learn in those areas. And gardening. I want to start to be more self sufficient, maybe start some little perma-culture project in my backyard or something. These are all pipe dreams, but I get pretty involved in them at times.
13. Who is your favorite actor/actress of the moment, and what makes them cool to you?
I think Amy Adams has something pretty special going on. Not only is she insanely multitalented with her singing and dancing combo, but she is just a great chameleon, taking on these fantastic character roles that differ so widely from performance to performance. Zooey Deschanel is really cool, and Emily Blunt, she makes good choices and has a stand offishness with the camera that I dig. And Rachel McAdams. Everyone I know has a crush on her, girls and guys alike.